One of my favorite things to do in baking is to recreate my grocery store favorites. It gives me a, perhaps a bit delusional, sense of satisfying my cravings in a healthier way. I’m not an idiot though. I know that given a choice between a kale salad and homemade ‘Nilla wafers, this is not the healthier option. On the other hand, if you’re going to eat something sweet anyways, why not make it with quality butter, organic eggs and pure vanilla extract? That’s what I thought.
One of my favorite grocery store treats is ‘Nilla Wafers. Nabisco really got it right on this one. They’re buttery, vanilla-y and not too sweet. Honestly, I can eat a whole box in one setting no problem. As good as they are, I figured it couldn’t be too hard to replicate them. They are basically very small butter cookies with an inordinate amount of vanilla flavor. So that’s exactly what this recipe is. It’s made just like a regular butter cookie, but the vanilla ratio is increased and balanced with a little whole milk. After trying this recipe out, and tweaking it ever so slightly, I wound up with a final product that made me very, very happy. They were just what the doctor ordered and, surprise, I could eat the whole batch of these as well!
Homemade ‘Nilla Wafers (Yield: ~6 dozen cookies)
4 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
3 1/2 oz. granulated sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
1 large egg, room temperature
4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. whole milk, room temperature
7 oz. a.p. flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1. Preheat oven to 350F and place a rack in the top third of the oven.2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and seeds from the vanilla bean until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the bowl.
3. Add egg and mix to combine, scraping down the bowl as needed.
4. Add vanilla extract and milk and beat to combine.
5. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt and add to mixture. Beat just to combine. Do not over mix.
6. Transfer the dough to a small bowl and refrigerate for an hour, or freeze for half an hour, until dough is stiff.7. Roll teaspoon sized pieces of dough into balls and arrange on a sheet tray lined with a SilPat or parchment. I was able to fit about 30 cookies per pan. You want to work quickly so the warmth from your hands doesn’t soften the dough too much.8. Flatten the dough balls slightly with your hand. 9. Bake the cookies, rotating them every 4 minutes, for approximately 12-15 minutes. They should be golden around the edges and feel dry to the touch when finished.
I’m telling you, if you’re a fan of the classic Nabisco treat, you should give these a shot. There are some meager differences, but these have that reall butter flavor that just can’t be beat. Plus, no preservatives = lighter conscience.
You may have noticed that most cookie recipes use the same basic steps to achieve their greatness. This is called the “Creaming Method”. Basically that means that you cream the room temperature butter, using the sugar as an abrasive to help break it apart. That is always followed by eggs and any extract you may be using. If your eggs are not room temperature, the chill from them will solidify the butter fat and you will wind up with a broken consistency and teeny tiny pieces of butter throughout, rather than a smooth mixture. Following the eggs, the dry ingredients are added just to combine. You don’t want to over mix the dry as beating flour leads to gluten production and chewier consistencies. There are variations to this process, depending on what needs to be included in the recipe, but if you start with these basic steps, you can’t go wrong!
I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Comment with any questions or just let me know how your’s turned out! Soon I’ll share my recipe for Homemade Graham Crackers. Get ready to have your socks blown off!
xo – Cassie